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Hannah L. Cloke

Hannah L. Cloke
Hannah L. Cloke

The 2018 Plinius Medal is awarded to Hannah L. Cloke for her outstanding research on uncertainties in modelling flood hazards and understanding risks in operational ensemble flood forecasting as well as climate impact assessments of future flood risks.

Hannah Cloke is the Director of Hydrology Research at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. She is a hydrological modeller and catchment hydrologist with internationally leading publications on flood forecasting and early warning systems, flood risk management and land surface modelling. She codirects the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC’s) Flooding from intense rainfall programme and works closely with many local, national and international stakeholder partners such as the Met Office, the Environment Agency, the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and Local Flood groups. She is attached to the European Flood Awareness System (EFAS) and the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS).

Cloke has emerged as the outstanding flood researcher of her generation. Her focus has been on understanding uncertainties in modelling flood hazards and risks, ranging from the small hill slope to the continental, from the meteorological forcing down to flood inundation. Her work on the quantification of uncertainty in modelling has greatly advanced our understanding of risks, both in operational ensemble flood forecasting as well as in climate impact assessment of future flood risks. Cloke’s research has always been conducted in a cross-cutting and multi-disciplinary manner. She has, for example, worked together with meteorologists to improve the operational ensemble forecast at ECMWF. Furthermore, her collaboration with social scientists has enhanced our understanding of the decision-making process and how we better can communicate risk. Her contributions to hydrological forecasting in the UK and the operational forecasting system EFAS has helped to improve flood preparedness for citizens all over Europe.

Cloke’s academic achievements and scholarly publication record are outstanding. She has managed a number of national and international research projects and is currently leading two NERC funded projects (TENDERLY: Towards END-to End flood forecasting and a tool for ReaL-time catchment susceptibility; SINATRA: Susceptibility of catchments to INTense Rainfall and flooding) as well as a project under the World Bank Challenge Fund. In addition, she is currently participating in three Horizon 2020 projects. For her work she was awarded the NERC Early Career Impact Award, and the Water Cycle project, led by Cloke, was selected as runner up for the Guardian Research Impact awards in 2016.

Alongside the work on probabilistic flood hazard and risk, Cloke has worked extensively on understanding and perception of risks. This research has put the focus on the important issue of adequately communicating and disseminating forecast information. As a seconded expert scientist to the UK government at the time of the 2014 winter floods in the UK, she has also contributed to the public understanding of flood risk frequently addressing this topic in national media. In numerous appearances she was clearly able to explain the scientific evidence basis for flood risk management practices, which also led to her receiving Reading University’s Vice-Chancellor’s Public Communications Prize in 2015. Cloke’s world-leading expertise in flood risk have resulted in her nomination to the Advisory Group for the National Flood Resilience Review in 2016. In summary, Cloke has through her scientific excellence and her high-impact, cross-cutting research greatly contributed to the advancement of the field of natural hazards, which makes her eminently worthy of receiving the Plinius Medal.